In a time when scoring runs and hitting a baseball safely into the outfield gap can seem as improbable as Michael Jordan missing a jumper as time expires, this edition of the Seattle Mariners Minor League Players of the Week lends hope to an organization starved for offensive consistency.
Not only did the bats leap into a frenzy this week, they were swung with a hunger for white Haitian leather and threaded red stitching.
Position Player of the Week Finalists
5. John Lindsey, 1B/DH, San Antonio Missions
Lindsey pounded two home runs among his eight hits in 22 at-bats (.364). The right-handed slugger drove in six and scored five runs in six games. Lindsey had two multi-hit games, including one that resulted in a 4-4 day, on his way to leading the Missions offensive attack this past week. The 27-year-old is hitting .306 with 33 RBI for the year. His 10 homers rank third in the Texas League.
4. Bucky Jacobsen, DH, Tacoma Rainiers
The Rainiers cleanup hitter has anchored the lineup all season long and padded his organizational RBI lead with five more this past week. The 28-year-old had six hits in 21 at-bats (.286) last week, including his 11th bomb of the season. Jacobsen stroked four more doubles to bring his team-leading total to 16 and now has 27 extra-base hits to pace the Rainiers. The 6-foot-4 Wyoming native is hitting .307 and his 45 RBI ranks second in the PCL.
3. Juan Gonzalez, SS, Inland Empire 66ers
Gonzalez is making a habit of playing his way into strong consideration for player of the week. The 22-year-old’s 9-23 (.391) ignited the hot Inland offense and landed the shortstop in his familiar place right here. Gonzalez had two doubles, drove in three, scored three, and had two multi-hit games for the week. The 66ers lead off hitter hit safely in all six games and extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
2. Jesus Guzman, 3B, Inland Empire 66ers
Guzman joined the 66ers late in the month of April after injuries raided the Inland roster. The 19-year-old switch-hitter laced out 11 hits in 23 at-bats (.478) for the week, including two doubles. Guzman produced four multi-hit games and hit safely in all six contests. For the season, the Venezuelan-born third baseman is hitting .336 with a home run and 12 RBI.
InsidethePark.com Players of the Week:
Josh Womack, OF, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
The M’s second round pick in the 2002 draft went 12-28 (.429) for the week, with two doubles, a triple, and four runs scored. The 20-year-old had four multi-hit games and had at least one hit in all seven games for the Timber Rattlers. Womack has an eight-game hitting streak heading into this week’s action. For the year, the left-handed-hitting San Diego native is hitting .261 with three home runs and 22 RBI. Womack also has seven steals and a team-leading 17 extra-base hits.
Womack spent the 2003 season at short-season Everett of the Northwest League and showed flashes of the five-tool skills he was drafted for. Hitting in the pitcher’s paradise that is the Midwest League has been a challenge to Womack, but not one he can’t handle. The multi-talented outfielder has hit well over .300 since being moved from the lead off spot down to the sixth and seventh slot in the order. Womack could quickly become one of the top outfield prospects if he keeps putting up numbers like that every week.
Luis Ugueto, OF, Tacoma Rainiers
The team video room must be something of a good luck charm in the Mariners organization. First John Olerud gets locked into one during a game, nearly misses an at-bat, and then goes on a tear, raising his batting average nearly 30 points in six games. Now it’s happening with Ugueto, better know around these parts as “The Rule V Kid.” No Luis didn’t get locked into one, nor did he nearly get pinch-hit for because the team couldn’t find him when his spot in the order came up. So where does the video room come into play here? I’ll tell ya. If you were to find yourself down in the Tacoma Rainiers clubhouse after a game and go looking for Luis Ugueto in the locker room. You will not find him. Nor will you find him eating a post game meal, like many of the other Rainiers. Instead Ugueto is found sitting two feet in front of a TV monitor breaking down every one of his at-bats, pitch-by-pitch.
It’s paying off.
Ugueto started four games for Tacoma last week, and went 8-14 (.571). The 26-year-old smacked two home runs, both in a mid-week doubleheader versus Iowa. Ugueto also drove in five runs, scored four more, and stole a base. Hitting safely in all four games, Ugueto produced multi-hit games in all but one and extended his hitting streak to seven games.
Pitcher of the Week Finalists
5. T. A. Fulmer, RHP, Inland Empire 66ers
Fulmer suffered a loss after going 6.2 innings and allowing just two runs on six hits. The 24-year-old right-hander stuck out five and walked just one but without the necessary run support, Fulmer dropped to 3-4 on the season with a 4.24 ERA.
4. Cesar Jimenez, LHP, Inland Empire 66ers
Jimenez is one of several quality left-handed relievers in the system, and could soon rival teammate Miguel Martinez for top honors. Jimenez went 6.2 innings in two appearances for the week, allowing seven hits, but no runs. The 19-year-old struck out six and did not walk a batter. Jimenez is 2-2 on the season with a stingy 1.67 ERA and one save in 14 games.
3. Jason Mackintosh, LHP, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Mackintosh slid to the starting rotation a few weeks ago and has taken off with the role. In two starts this past week the left-hander went 12 innings and allowed just four earned runs on 12 hits. The 23-year-old struck out 14 and walked just two. Mackintosh received no-decisions in both outings but sliced his ERA to 2.65.
2. Nibaldo Acosta, RHP, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Speaking of no run support, Acosta was tagged with his sixth loss of the season this past week despite a solid 3.57 ERA in 10 appearances. In his most recent start, the 21-year-old tossed seven strong innings, allowing just three hits and an earned run. The offense was shut out, handing Acosta the loss. Crawling around under the radar, Acosta could be a name to remember.
InsidethePark.com Pitcher of the Week
Felix Hernandez, RHP, Inland Empire 66ers
Ho-hum, another pitcher of the week from the Inland Empire. First Bobby Livingston wins three times in eight weeks and now Felix Hernandez picks up his second award of the season. The Venezuelan phenom went six shutout innings in his only start of the week. Hernandez allowed just two hits while striking out eight. It was the 18-year-old’s 10th appearance of the year and the eighth time he had gone at least five frames.
As the league’s youngest pitcher by a full year, Hernandez is clearly the premier prospect in the league, and is the prize of the organization. His workload is being watched closely; especially pitch counts and long stressful innings later in games. The right-hander logged just under 100 innings last season, combining stops in Everett and Wisconsin. The Mariners do not need another arm injury to a top pitching prospect and will likely hold off on promoting Hernandez to Double-A San Antonio for as long as they can.
Felix makes his next start on Tuesday night versus Rancho Cucamonga, a team that touched him up for five earned runs on eight hits back on May 16.
Missions lead off hitter Dustin Delucchi had another fine week and in many other organizations would be playing in Triple-A. Delucchi went 8-21 (.381) with a home run and three RBI to climb to third in the league in hitting, at .336
Shin-soo Choo went 9-19 (.474), including three multi-hit games
Greg Dobbs had eight hits, including his fifth home run of the year, in 24 at-bats. Dobbs added four RBI to polish off the week
Rainiers 1B A.J. Zapp continues a solid season, going 6-21 (.286) with a homer and three RBI
Evel Bastida-Martinez went 11-26 (.423) with four multi-hit games for Inland Empire for the week. Martinez enters the new week with an eight-game hitting streak after hitting safely in all seven contests this past week
Jon Nelson continued his hot hitting by going 8-23 (.348) with four RBI and three runs scored. The power-hitting 24-year-old also stole two bases to bring his season total to 10
Hunter Brown's bat seems to have found a groove of late, collecting seven more hits in four games this past week. Brown is up to .276 for the year and hit his fifth long ball of the season on Wednesday
T.J. Bohn's season has been solid and his patient approach at the plate has allowed him to stay on pace for a team-record in walks. Chalk up four more bases on balls for Bohn, giving him 37 for the year
Reliever Darwin Soto tossed two scoreless innings, striking out four
Rainiers unsung hero Scott Atchison tossed three hitless innings, striking out four and dropping his ERA to 3.89 for the year
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers lefty Ryan Feierabend stayed on par with his consistent season, going 6.1 innings and allwoing just three runs on four hits
Tacoma southpaw Travis Blackley, starting in place of promoted right-hander Clint Nageotte, picked up his sixth straight win after a 6.1 inning outing in Las Vegas